A true story:
Last Wednesday, someone at work asked me if I was planning to attend an informal company function scheduled for this Saturday. Never one to enjoy informal company functions, I immediately thought up an excuse - "Uh, no, actually, I'll be out of town. I'll be in Anaheim that afternoon."
And that was that. The lie worked perfectly, and I was marked down as a 'no'. It was smooth sailing from there, or so I thought, until the following brief dialogue took place in the break room two days later:
Co-worker #1: "So hey, Jeff, are you going to the company BBQ on the 10th?"
Me: "Uh, no, actually I'll be in Anaheim that afternoon."
Co-worker #2: "Really? What for?"
(Here's where my brain thought it would be a terrific idea to complicate the alibi)
Me: "For, uh, I'm going to a baseball game. That night, it's a night game, I'm going to a baseball game that night."
(And so the chain reaction begins)
Co-worker #2: "By yourself?"
Me: "Uh, I-"
Co-worker #1: "I'll go with you!"
Co-worker #2: "That'd be fun!"
Me: (stunned) "...uh, oh yeah, totally, we should do that."
Co-worker #2: "(laughs) Are you sure? You hesitated."
Me: "...uh, no, yeah, totally, we should go to the game."
Co-worker #1: "Awesome, I'm down."
Me: "...I'll grab some cheap tickets when I get home and give you a call tonight."
Co-worker #1: "Great!"
My brain kicked in again during the drive home, and I began to wonder if the Angels even had a home game scheduled for the 10th. If not, then I'd have to come up with a new excuse to cover up for the old one, and that would just make everything way too convoluted. "Why didn't you just say 'I can't make it' and leave it there?" I thought to myself. "People do it all the time, you don't need to get so inventive." Fortunately, when I got home, I discovered that not only do the Angels have a home game scheduled for the night of the 10th, but it also happens to be against the Mariners! So I went ahead and bought two of the cheapest tickets I could find. How intriguing that it would work out that way! It's almost like God wanted me to lie. Although it looks like Gil Meche will be taking the hill that night, so on second thought, maybe this is actually some kind of elaborate divine castigation.
Now, the point of this story isn't how an experienced veteran stays committed to a lie (even to the point at which it's no longer a lie at all). Rather, it's that as of last Friday, when this whole episode took place, the Mariners were 23-32 and well ensconced in last place (1 game behind Anaheim, 6 games behind Texas). Ugly series against the Orioles, Twins and Rangers were still fresh in my mind, and I really wasn't in the mood to have to see this team in person again. It felt like their sleigh ride to nowhere was picking up steam, and I didn't want to be a firsthand observer of their imminent collapse. I was actually a little disappointed that the Angels turned out to be playing the M's, because the only thing worse than watching the Mariners play awful baseball is watching them play awful baseball in front of 35,000 idiot Anaheim fans. I began to dread the upcoming weekend.
Then a funny thing happened - they won. Then they won again. Then they lost, but they followed it up with another pair of wins. I know, I know, three of those wins were against Kansas City and everything, but they all count the same in the standings, and beating Liriano and the Twins tonight kind of adds a sense of legitimacy to the little hot streak. Five wins in six games, and all of a sudden people are starting to pay more attention. It may not be quite enough for you, but dammit, they've got me hooked again, and it's gotten to where I'm actually looking forward to Saturday's trip up to Anaheim, because the game might turn out to mean something for the Mariners after all. Each of the three games leading up to that night are against opponents with worse records than us, and if the M's could somehow take all three...I'm letting myself get carried away, but you know what I'm talking about. This might not be such a depressing game after all.
(NOTE: all subject to change, depending on tomorrow night's outcome.)
Biggest Contribution: Felix Hernandez, +27.5%
Biggest Suckfest: Eddie Guardado, -13.0%
Most Important Hit: Morse double, +12.5%
Most Important Pitch: Mauer double #2, -12.6%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +35.5%
Total Contribution by Hitters: +10.3%
Still on the Lightning Rounds:
- There are two things about Felix Hernandez's performance on the field that make him so special: his strikeouts and his groundballs. While he wasn't missing as many bats tonight as we've seen in the past, he recorded only a single fly ball out in seven innings of work. That's the sign of a guy who's really got his two-seamer working. He let a few of them catch too much of the plate - as usual - but there were only a handful of balls struck with much authority, with minimal damage. An encouraging outing, to say the least.
- Also, the curveball Felix used to strike out Torii Hunter on a full count with two down and a man on second in the fifth was one of the best pitches he's thrown all year. It's worth loading up the MLB.tv archived footage for that whiff alone.
- A direct quote from Dave Valle:
Those folks do a great job out there in the parking area.
There is truly no limit to the number of things on which he's ready and willing to shed a positive light.
- For those of you keeping track of this sort of thing, Mike Hargrove used four different pitchers in the eighth inning - Eddie Guardado, Julio Mateo, George Sherrill, and JJ Putz. The latter two came in with a pair of runners on base in a 4-2 ballgame. God only knows what would've happened if Putz allowed a two-run double to Terry Tiffee and the game went to extras. That whole inning was a completely needless stunt. Or series of stunts, I should say.
- When Carl Everett's bat slipped out of his hands and flew into the seats in the middle of an eighth inning at bat, I half expected him to approach the edge of the grass and demand that he get it back.
- I'm not sure what Hit Tracker Online would have to say about it, but the Safeco environment and a slight inward breeze seemed to keep a pair of long fly balls in the park - one a Johjima double into the left field gap, and the other a Morse double into straightaway center. They both looked gone off the bat, and Kubel and Hunter each reacted with surprise when the balls remained in play.
- Ichiro has closed the gap between his and Alexis Rios' batting average to nine points with a four-hit night (.406 since April 19th). Unfortunately, Mariner pitchers allowed Joe Mauer to climb all the way up to .368, so there's still some work to be done yet.
- With two on and none out in the bottom of the first, Jose Lopez flashed what I have written down as "half a bunt." He had his hands spread apart like usual, but he didn't really square around to face the pitcher, instead just stabbing out with the bat and tapping the ball foul. If that isn't a big Venezuelan middle finger to Mike Hargrove, I don't know what is. After all, the best way to get someone to stop asking you to do something is for you to intentionally do it poorly.